Our Hawaii Vacation series continues with the island of Kauai, the fourth and final island described in this series.
This tiny island has an incredible variety of landscapes. Sculpted over six million years by the forces of nature, its spectacular scenery ranges from the Na Pali cliffs on the North Shore to the dramatic Waimea Canyon. Kaui’s slower pace seems best-suited to a quiet family vacation or a rugged outdoors adventure.
The oldest and northern most of the four major Hawaiian Islands, Kauai covers only 553 square miles, is a distinctive, “round-shaped” island with a population of 51,000 residents.
Much like the other Hawaiian islands, the warmest and coolest months differ only by 8 degrees or so. The ocean temperature is remarkably consistent, hovering between 72 to 76 degrees all year long.
Kauai is known as “The Garden Island” because of its high population of plant life. The rainforest climate is the wettest of the Hawaiian Islands, and Mt. Wai’ale’ale is the wettest
spot on EARTH!
The island’s people are among the friendliest in the country according to an annual poll of vacationers. Two of Kauai’s resorts–the Hyatt and the Princeville Resort–are consistently rated in the top twenty tropical resorts in one popular travel magazine.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa (Formerly Hyatt Regency Kauai Resort & Spa) is located on the sunny side of the island. With 602 rooms, 4 tennis courts, golf course, 5 restaurants, cocktail lounges, child care, multiple pools and health spas, this is a luxury resort.
The Pinceville Resort Kauai is located on Kauai’s north shore. This is a premier resort, and is always on the top of the Kauai accommodation list. Puu Poa Beach is a few steps from the main lawn, and the Princeville Golf Club, considered one of the best courses in Hawaii, sits nearby on 390 acres with ocean views from every hole.
However, it is the rugged beauty and the opportunity for adventure that attracts many people to the island. If you dream of hiking or kayaking in a beautiful tropical environment, Kauai is a great choice.
The southern and western shores have long, white beaches. And there are the majestic, sweeping valleys, such as the Kalalau Valley on the Na Pali Coast.
The most notable and well-known scenery includes the Waimea Canyon and the breathtaking cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. Waimea Canyon–aptly named the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”–and Koke’e State Park, in Lihue, are open year-round. The canyon stretches 10 miles from Captain James Cook’s famous landing site–in 1778–to Koke’e State Park.
This canyon has been the site for a number of movies including Jurasic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark. In fact, more than two dozen Hollywood movies have been filmed on Kauai!
Hiking trails in the park offer unbelievable views of the canyon and lush “forest” environment. The canyon itself is also accessible for hiking, fishing and camping.
Kauai’s Na Pali Coast cliffs, are pure, rugged beauty, featuring deep, narrow valleys ending sharply at the sea. Waterfalls, swift-flowing streams, and extensive stone-walled terraces remain on the valley bottoms where ancient, native Hawaiians once lived.
The 11-mile Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the coast. The trail crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys, then drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau.
But much of the island can be see only by air. To see Kauai by helicopter is like nothing else in the world, with its remote waterfalls, hidden canyons and uninhabited valleys.
The majestic Napali coast provides the opportunity for some world-class snorkeling. No other place in Hawaii offers such unique formations as those on Niihau, shaped by ocean currents and waves for those 6 million years! On your list of Hawaii vacations, Kauai is a place to enjoy
whether for a family vacation or adventure on land or sea.
Here are a few of the best of Kauai’s beaches: Hanalei Bay Beach is a perfect semi-circle of white sand on shimmering tropical waters with a backdrop of 4,000-foot waterfalls. It is often described as not only the most beautiful Kauai beach, but also the most beautiful in Hawaii. The beach is about 125 feet wide and framed by the Waipa River to the west and the Hanalei River to the east, on Kauai’s north shore. The bottom slopes gradually down, making it a wonderful beach for youngsters, and there are large coral reefs at both ends of the bay.
Haena Beach, with its grainy yellow sand and limpid waters set off by emerald cliffs, has appeared as the stereotypical tropical strand in many Hollywood films. Summer months offer excellent swimming and snorkeling. However,winter produces big waves that are fun for surfers but dangerous for everyone else.
Tunnels Beach is the superb snorkeling spot on the North Shore. The two-mile-long Kauai beach runs from Hanalei Colony Resort to Ha’ena Beach Park. The center portion has a huge half-moon shaped reef just offshore where snorkelers can encounter eels, turtles, and other colorful sea creatures. Excellent in summer, Tunnels Beach has large waves in winter that can make it dangerous to swim.
Shipwreck Beach on the South Shore is a body surfer’s heaven. This Kauai beach on Keoneloa Bay is one of the largest expanses of beach in the Poipu area. During much of the year, Shipwreck Beach is better suited for strong swimmers and surfers. This is due to the powerful and potentially dangerous waves, which break close to shore.
Whether you favor a quiet and relaxing time at a resort, or an oudoor adventure in a tropical paradise, the island of Kauai is a good choice.
I hope you have enjoyed this series and that you will soon be able to enjoy your own Hawaii vacation. Considering all that these islands have to offer, the hardest part may be choosing where to start. Just remember, you won’t see everything in one trip, so do your planning with this in mind and you will likely be a happier traveller.